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UNH Eats Locally, Thinks Globally With Annual Harvest Dinner

By Beth Potier, Media Relations
September 5, 2007

UNH chief sustainability officer Tom Kelly enjoys the 2006 Local Harvest Dinner. Ron Bergeron, UNH Photo Services.

Since 2005, UNH has celebrated the region’s rich agricultural heritage with its annual Local Harvest Dinner, gaining fans and patrons for its gourmet preparations of local produce, seafood, meats and cheeses. Building on its popularity, this year’s dinner, on Thursday, Sept. 20, has moved to Holloway Commons. The Local Harvest Dinner runs from 4:30 – 9 p.m. and is offered to all students on the UNH meal plan, as well as to the general public (adults $12.50 plus tax; children under 10 $6.25).

“Around the world, harvest dinners celebrate the bounty of the local land. Our Local Harvest Dinner connects students and guests to the local landscape while providing a meal of delicious, fresh food,” says Elisabeth Farrell, a program coordinator for the University Office of Sustainability, which partners with UNH Dining in Local Harvest. Eating locally, Farrell notes, supports local economies and maintains the vibrant agricultural landscape for which New Hampshire is known.

With a menu that includes organic vegetables from UNH’s Organic Garden Club and Tuckaway Farm in Lee, beef and chicken from Lasting Legacy Farm in Barrington, buffalo from Yankee Farmer’s Market Natural Meats in Warner, tea from Portsmouth Tea Company, and cheeses from Full Moon Farm in Rochester, Boggy Meadow Farm in Walpole, and Silvery Moon Creamery in Westbrook, Maine, the meal showcases the diversity of foods from the region. Honey from Bee Rich Apiary in Hudson, apples and squash from UNH’s Woodman Farm, and cider from Carter Hill Orchard in Concord provide a more traditional taste of autumn in New Hampshire.

“By partnering with these local vendors for this special night we hope to emphasize our current local sustainable initiatives and provide an outstanding meal as well as an educational experience to all those who attend,” says Jon Plodzik, director of UNH Dining. “The event has grown over the years, much like the local produce this time of year, into something truly special for UNH Dining, the Office of Sustainability, and the entire UNH community.”

Beneath a tent outside Holloway, local producers and food-related organizations such as NH Made and Seacoast Slow Food will educate diners about the impact of eating locally. In addition, Barrington photographer Charter Weeks will display photographs documenting a barn-raising at Lasting Legacy Farm. The photos, shot earlier this summer, include interesting portrayals of several Amish volunteers who requested that their faces not appear in the photos.

“I really loved the idea of being forced to present a world that was emblematic of communal effort and physical demand, with an absence of individual identity,” says Weeks.

This year, UNH Dining hosts several other Local Harvest events during the week of the Local Harvest Dinner. Vegan chef Norma Koski, of Susty’s Café in Northwood, is guest chef in Elements at Philbrook dining hall Wednesday, Sept. 19. Koski has partnered with the Organic Garden Club to bring “radical vegan foods” to student diners and guests that evening. And for the entire week (Sept. 17 – 21), Panache, the bakery-style sandwich shop at Holloway Commons, will feature local foods, including Portsmouth Tea Company teas and Fogarty’s cheesecake.

A partnership of the Office of Sustainability and UNH Dining, the Local Harvest Dinner is part of Dining’s Local Harvest initiative, which brings local food, including cage-free eggs and organic produce, to UNH’s three student dining halls regularly. UNH is the first land-grant university in the nation with an organic research dairy; it is home to an active Organic Garden Club, a food waste composting program, and the New Hampshire Farm to School Program, which connects state K-12 schools with New Hampshire farms. For more information, go to http://www.unh.edu/dining/localharvest.htm or www.sustainableunh.unh.edu.

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